4 Major Trends from SXSW Gaming 2017


SXSW serves as a platform that guides several industry-wide conversations throughout the year, and they all start with the SXSW PanelPicker®.

This year, PanelPicker will take place from Monday, June 26 – Friday, July 21, and will be available for both fans and professionals alike to enter proposals covering their unique ideas to speak on in 2018.

When looking ahead at the trends of the future though, it’s always great to take a look back at what came before. Here are some topics and trends that we saw make a strong appearance at SXSW Gaming 2017.

Esports Tournament Stage

Esports: The Future is Happening Now

With an expected revenue of over $1 billion by 2020, and a following spanning millions of fans worldwide, the growth of esports shows no signs of slowing down. And, as esports continues to experience significant growth each year, so does the scope of conversations had about the industry. Topics for this year’s event covered areas such as diversity in esports, betting and gambling in esports, marketing and sponsorship opportunities found throughout esports, and new platforms for esports such as mobile gaming.

Speakers at SXSW Gaming 2017 included esports figureheads such as Kristin Salvatore (Twitch Esports), Andy Dinh (TSM), Marcus “Dyrus” Hill (League of Legends), and Devin Nash (CLG).

VR Demo

VR and AR Continue to Grow

In 2016 we saw the introduction of VR to a mass-market audience with releases of the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PSVR headset devices. This year, at SXSW Gaming 2017, we began to explore where VR for gaming was heading on both mobile and console platforms, as well as what was new in the world of AR gaming. With more AAA releases expected to make a huge splash later this year, 2018 will be a great opportunity to reflect on how far VR and AR have come as well as what’s coming next.

Speakers for 2017 included industry pioneers like Alex Schwartz (Owlchemy Labs), Jeri Ellsworth (castAR), and Maria Essig (Google).

SXSW Gaming Panel

Diversity & Inclusivity: Open Conversations are Key

The ongoing effort to strengthen diversity and inclusivity found throughout the gaming industry made a strong showing at SXSW Gaming 2017. In fact, the majority of sessions and proposals around this topic came directly from the PanelPicker process in 2016, which indicates just how important the ideas of today impact the conversations of tomorrow. Some topics that were covered this year included critical issues such as the need for diversity in modern gaming culture, the importance of suicide prevention, and being accepting or inclusive of all gaming audiences.

Speakers this year included thought leaders and major players such as Brie Code (Tru Luv Media), Anna Prosser Robinson (Twitch), and Carolina Ravassa (Sombra, Overwatch).

The Attack Meet Up

Online Influencers Reign Supreme

PewDiePie, the “King of YouTube,” has just over 55 million followers on YouTube alone.

It goes without saying that online influencers across social media, along with content creators from YouTube and Twitch, are now the cultural focal points of today. Along with this astonishing recent growth came several interesting new conversations at SXSW Gaming 2017. These conversations covered topics such as the behind-the-scenes life of influencers and content creators, successful ways of utilizing the influence of these unique individuals, and the secrets behind establishing your own brand in this bustling field.

Key speakers for this year’s lineup included Kristin “KittyPlays” Valnicek (Twitch), Alex Corea & Kevin Pereira (The Attack), Alan Walker (DJ), and Nati “ZombiUnicorn” Casanova (YouTube).

These four major trends are just as relevant now as they were when originally proposed in 2016. With that said, we can’t wait to see what ideas and innovative approaches are proposed for both new and trending topics in this year’s PanelPicker.

Curious about how to enter your idea for a chance to speak at SXSW Gaming 2018? Follow these four steps and be a part of the conversation today!

Photo credits in order of appearance: Photo by Lauren Lindley, Photo by Thomas Tischio, Photo by Thomas Tischio, Photo by Michael Caufield, and Photo by Luis Bustos


Estevan Aviles

Gaming Festival Programming Specialist

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